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SF Mayor Lee, Sheriff Mirkarimi Play Blame Game Over Pier 14 Shooting

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- The fatal July 1 shooting of Kate Steinle on San Francisco's waterfront -- allegedly by an undocumented migrant man who had been repeatedly deported and who was released from custody prior to the shooting by the San Francisco Sheriff's Department -- led to a war of words between Mayor Ed Lee and Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi on Wednesday.

In his first public comments since Steinle's slaying, Mayor Lee suggested to reporters Wednesday that S.F. County Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi should have done more to prevent the suspected shooter, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, from being on the Embarcadero instead of in federal custody, despite San Francisco's "sanctuary city" policy of non-cooperation in matters of deportation.

READ MORE: How San Francisco Became A Sanctuary City For Undocumented Immigrants

"Do I need to educate somebody about how to pick up a phone?" Mayor Lee asked rhetorically.

The mayor insists that San Francisco's sanctuary city ordinance allows the sheriff to coordinate the release of a prisoner with federal Immigration and Custom Enforcement (I.C.E.) agents. But the sheriff is demanding that I.C.E bring either a court order or a warrant for such prisoners before the jail hands them over to the Feds.

Mayor Lee
Mayor Ed Lee told reporters that the county sheriff should have alerted the Feds before releasing an undocumented immigrant suspected of killing Kate Steinle on the city's waterfront. (CBS)

"There was nothing in there [sanctuary policy] that prevented our sheriff from picking up the phone and letting [I.C.E] know that 'you [ICE agents] brought back to our jurisdiction a multi-felony serious offender and we are about to release'... it just takes a simple phone call for that to happen," Lee told reporters.

S.F. Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi
San Francisco County Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi spoke with KPIX 5's Joe Vazquez. (CBS)

Sheriff Mirkarimi was quick to respond to the mayor's remarks and he held back little of his apparent contempt.

"For the mayor to come out swinging like this is the fact that the mayor is backing away from the very law that he supported and he's looking for a scapegoat... that's kind've typical for this mayor" Mirkarimi told KPIX reporter Joe Vazquez.

"All our policy is to explain the law that the mayor signed into action and, because of the minor offense that was summarily dismissed -- a marijuana possession on a 20-year-old warrant -- Mr. Sanchez, the suspect, didn't even qualify -- even under the mayor's law -- for us to contact ICE. So he can't have it both ways." Mirkarimi told KPIX.

"I think the mayor is deflecting and redirecting because he knows that he is trying to get out of a corner about a law that he trumpeted his support [for] and then signed and, obviously, is concerned about some of the ramifications," Mirkarimi added.

Mirkarimi sent out a memo in March saying that only he could authorize turning over undocumented immigrants to I.C.E.

The mayor now wants the the sheriff to meet with the Feds to go over the process of notifying I.C.E.

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